We discovered MUD Jeans at the entrance of the NEONYT fair, where they were performing live demonstrations on how they easily turn an old pair of jeans into new fiber and fabric for clothing. The mission of the company is “We aim to change the fashion industry, starting with the most popular piece of clothing: a pair of jeans”. They embrace a new definition of sustainability according to which “sustain” is not enough anymore to make an impact, the new frontier is “regenerate”.
MUD jeans business model is based on upcycling: old jeans are never seen as waste but as valuable raw materials. Customer can send back their old jeans to the company if they consist of more than 96% cotton, MUD Jeans collect them and send them to the recycle factory Recovertex in Spain, in which they are shredded, spin into yarn and made new denim. Moreover, the circular economy guides every decision made at MUD Jeans, from jeans design, free from elements that may make the re-make harder, such as leather patches, to the jeans recycling.
“Over the past three years we’ve saved 12,000 jeans from landfill and incineration and turned them into new denim. In collaboration with the denim experts in Valencia, our fabrics are made with up to 40% recycled post consumer denim”. The company aims to sell one day 100% recycled denim, and therefore close the loop entirely.
Another interesting initiative goes back to 2013, when MUD Jeans launched the pioneering lease system, that is on of the first forms of servicization in the fashion industry.
“This system ensures that we keep hold of our valuable fibres and that every garment comes back to us and gets recycled. A shift from ownership to paying for the service is good for the environment and for you.”
After a year of leasing a pair of jeans, customers have the option to keep wearing them, switching them for a new model – only paying a monthly fee of €7,50, or sending them back for reuse or recycling. Once recovered, MUD Jeans sell the used clothing as vintage items, or, depending on the status of the jeans, recycle the fabrics into new products.
In only a couple of days the FTS team is so pleased to see how hopeful, positive and vibrant is the Berlin start up scene around sustainable fashion. Yet, this is only a tiny a starting point, as Adconia partner, Rainer den Ouden, suggests in their workshop about supply chain held at Fashion Tech:
“Today reuse is below 20% because the quality of clothes is getting worse. (…) Transparency in supply chain is the first step to build a path towards sustainability in the fashion industry.”
This final though open some unsolved questions at the center of the debate:
How to stop the unsustainable, mainstream trend?
How to promote greater customer education to have an innovation push from the market?
Who has to take responsibility? Regulators? Brands?
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